Date: Friday, January 16, 2009
By Marieka Barnard
A combination of excitement and tension filled the air at the Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa pre-race PRO press conference held in East London today, as top triathletes and race favourites discussed their goals for Sunday's race.
Defending champion and one of the race favourites, Raynard Tissink, completed last year's race in 04:03:02, showing off his notorious skills on the cycle leg with a course record of 02:15:08 for the 90km cycle. This year, however, Tissink will prove to be an even tougher competitor to beat as he believes he is thoroughly prepared and well rested for the race.
“I've focused on doing speed work for this race and averaged around 40 hours of training per week. Most of my training is spent on cycling, but I worked very hard on my swimming and running, so this should be an interesting race,” Tissink said. As a full time PRO athlete, Tissink said he covered approximately 20km to 40km of swimming, 600km to 800km on the bike, and about 100km to 140km on the road per week in preparation for the race. One of Tissink's biggest challenges as a full distance Ironman athlete coming to an Ironman 70.3, is the fatigue that sets in on the run leg of this quick-paced race, but Tissink was adamant that he has “eliminated that problem”.
Tissink singled out Tim Don (GBR) as his biggest competition for the race, and Don, racing his first ever Ironman 70.3, responded with confidence to the prospect of a podium finish. “Of course this is new grounds for me and it looks like a tough course, but it would be nice to race with Tissink – it should be good fun to have some company at the front!” he laughed.
While the battle between Tissink and Don should prove to be enthralling, the exceptionally strong field of PROs makes this an open race. Second place finisher from last year's race, Frederik van Lierde (BEL) is looking strong and determined to improve on his results, while last year's third placed athlete Fraser Cartmell (GBR) believes this year should be a whole new race. “There was nothing wrong with my cycle last year, I just had an off day on the bike, but hopefully I won't have that problem this year,” Carmell said. Other PROs sure to be hot on their heels include Norbert Langbrandtner (AUT), Konstantin Bachor (GER), Carl Storm (RSA) and James Cunnama (RSA) who are all set on finding themselves on the podium by the end of Sunday's race.
In the women's race, the field is wide open as it is unlikely that last year's winner, Desiree Ficker (USA) will attend the race. All eyes will be on the race between Lucie Zelenkova (CZE) and Heleen bij de Vaate (NED), while Davera Magson (RSA) will be sure to put in a very strong run as she holds the women's run record for the race. Lucie, coming back from an arm injury sustained in November, said she only started her swim training about three and a half weeks ago due to the injury. “But I don't have a weak point, I think the race is open, we have a very strong field,” Zelenkova said.
Be sure to witness the battles between these top PRO athletes on Sunday, 18 January 2009 with the race start at 7am from East London's Orient Beach.
Photo: Tim Don (UK), Raynard Tissink (RSA) And Fraser Cartmell (UK)
Spec –Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa
18 January 2009
1.9km SWIM | 90km CYCLE | 21.1km RUN
50 qualifying slots for the 2009 Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater, Florida